Over 1,000 cases of a new coronavirus variant found in England, minister says

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock gestures as he speaks during a news conference at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - Over 1,000 cases of a new coronavirus variant have been identified in the past few days in England, predominantly in the south of the country where it could be connected to a surge in cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday.

“We have identified a new variant of coronavirus, which may be associated with the faster spread in the southeast of England,” Hancock said in a statement to parliament.

“Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants,” he said.

“I must stress at this point that there is currently nothing to suggest that the variant is more likely to cause serious disease, and the latest clinical advice is that it’s highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine,” he added.

Reporting by William James and Estelle Shirbon